2014 Giants The Best of the Best
Now the season is over and the trophies are handed out it is fair to reflect on the EIHL. There is one name on the table that stands out. That is the Belfast Giants. The Giants won the league by 23 points and sealed the title in February. With that in mind did Paul Adey in his single season return to the UK create a team that can be considered the best in Elite League history?
In short he has. Every game in the league that Giants needed to win to keep a grip on the title they did. Wins in January over Sheffield and Nottingham will be held up as turning points in the title race. The Giants won those games 3-1 and 4-3 to effectively end the title race has a contest and make it when rather than if the giants would win their second title in 3 seasons.
But looking closer it could have been and perhaps should have been better for the Giants. Despite that massive winning margin in the league the Giants failed in both the Challenge Cup and the Playoff finals. The Challenge Cup in particular shows why the 2014 Giants have some work to be considered the best side in EIHL history. The Giants led that tie by 3 goals after the first leg but that was overturned in the second leg and the Panthers took cup on penalty shots.
The Playoffs are perhaps more of a lottery. The semi-final and final are one off games and the underdog can create an upset. That said to be considered the best upset should not be in the mind set but Fife pushed the Giants all the way going down 1-0 in the end. The final was equally as tight as the Steelers grabbed victory in the OT period.
Even the Giants league form can be down to upheaval in their rivals. Sheffield and Coventry had a new coach and Nottingham had the distractions of Europe. Meanwhile Cardiff was in dismay on the coaching side for much of the season. However the Giants didnâ€™t have the most ideal preparation with ownership issues and a new coach themselves.
With all that in mind though teams rarely truly dominate every competition in the EIHL. The 2008 Blaze side came close winning the league and the Knockout Cup and making the playoff final. The 2004 Steelers equally had a superb season winning the league and playoffs and losing in the Cup final. Only the Nottingham Panthers in 2013 have done better winning the League, Cup and Playoff titles.
It is always difficult to compare teams in different seasons but in terms of the 2014 Belfast Giants they will be remember for a dominating league performance. As for the best in EIHL history maybe they did not do enough to top last seasons Panthers but they will be up their with the Steelers and Blaze teams of past years.